Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Blog Archive

09/2015

Protest Update

September 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              While I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, my second version of The Protest is taking longer than expected. I’d hoped to be done by September, but I still have a month left to go, maybe more.     Started here three months ago             I’ve worked extensively on the motorcycle cop and he’s mostly finished. The angry redheaded teen being hauled away by the two cops has gotten some attention, but the most time has gone to the kid playing the guitar. He caused me problems in the original painting. I’d wanted him to look like our son CJ, but at the time CJ was tired of posing for ... read more

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Piano Guy

September 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I enjoy it when bloggers write about music, a subject I know little about. Back in college I owned a few albums, but never developed a robust appreciation of contemporary music. Back in the early seventies when I was attending UCLA, several of the guys in my dorm had aspirations of playing in bands and making it big, while others were content to master the air guitar.             I don’t know where music comes from; I read that melodies are notes hung on the invisible wires of time and repeated in a mathematical order, but math was not my subject. I admire people who create music, although they mystify me, especially one fellow I often encountered back in college.   ... read more

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Fourteen Years

September 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Today is the anniversary of 9/11. I wish I had something meaningful to relate on this occasion. I wish the loss of so many lives had led to a better world so all those people wouldn’t have died in vain. I wish we were still as united as we were on that tragic day fourteen years ago, even though the mortar for that unity was grief. I wish for a lot of things. An old expression said it best: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. 9/11 made us all beggars, and at times it seems like no one is riding anymore except haters and warmongers.                         It’s probably foolish to ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #37

September 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s been a while since I opened my illustration file and posted a Peculiar Picture. An explanation for new followers: I’m a retired illustrator, and during the course of my fifteen year career I created many pictures in my spare time on speculation—uncommissioned busy work for my portfolio. Typically, a third of an illustrator’s output isn’t published for one reason or another, but commissions are desirable because the artist gets paid whether or not the art is used. I’d try to anticipate images art directors might need. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head (I’ve actually done an illustration of that metaphor) and produce a big moneymaker, but other times my work failed to find a buyer and ... read more

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A Princess and Stolen Gold

September 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  She was a real princess, an infanta of Spain, and I’d come thousands of miles to pay her homage. She wasn’t exactly pretty; she possessed those unfortunate characteristics that, had she lived a long life, would have twisted her sweetness into the grotesqueness so characteristic of her family. She was a Habsburg, and no one would remember her today were it not for her father’s famous painter. As I gazed upon her, I felt something peculiar happening…deep in my pants. Princess or no princess, I was about to humiliate myself.             I’d grown up in California and had been raised on tales of Spanish chivalry and pirates of the Spanish Main. As an ... read more

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Fish Heads

September 18, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have a robust appetite and don’t turn down much when it comes to food, but there is one notable exception. Some people believe that the head is the tastiest part of a fish. I don’t care; I won’t be eating fish heads unless I find myself starving on one of those survival programs with a million dollar prize. Two incidents involving fish heads come to mind.             My late mother-in-law often related an incident from a lunch she attended at Berlin’s Spandau Prison in the 1960s, back in the day when Rudolph Hess was the only person imprisoned there. My mother-in-law, along with other wives of American ... read more

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Passivity

September 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Parents are role models during a child’s formative years, and mine were no exception. Although my mother has many good qualities, she’s aggressive, alienating people with her intelligence and off-the-grid opinions. She was never popular with neighbors and family members but she always manipulated situations to her benefit. In contrast, Dad was kind and gentle, beloved by animals, good at sports, smart and easy-going. But Dad had one troubling characteristic—passivity. He was uncomfortable around educated people and had a terrible inferiority complex because of his lack of education. He started pumping gas at thirteen to help put food on the table for his brothers and sisters. Being illegitimate, which I was unaware ... read more

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The Fallacy of Fairness

September 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   I was raised on the concept of “fairness,” but lately I’ve wondered if fairness is a notion that should be lumped together with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I suppose this makes me either a cynic, or a realist. The world is not a fair place, never has been and never will be, so why do we raise our children as if fairness is fundamental to existence?             I doubt it’s possible to love children equally, but parents push the concept in order to limit sibling conflicts and avoid household friction. Today we understand the pitfalls of raising girls to think of themselves as little princesses waiting for Prince Charming to sweep them off ... read more

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Close Encounters

September 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   Lately, I’ve been taking after dinner walks to help my digestion and get me off the couch. Several days ago as I prepared to hit the pavement, I stepped out onto our front steps and saw a spider hanging in midair right in front of me. I hate killing things and studied the spider for a moment. It appeared to be defying gravity, floating in front of me, but when I crouched down and turned towards the sun, I could see the glint of the web supporting it. I carefully pinched the web at both ends, careful not to disturb the spider and relocated it in a nearby bush. I felt for not killing a creature that was just trying to make a living finding food in the form of insects I didn’t want in the house anyway.   &n ... read more

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The Cult of Cuteness

September 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  On Saturday Mrs. Chatterbox and I took a drive to enjoy the wonderful fall weather. We ended up walking through an antique mall in Troutdale near the scenic Columbia Gorge. I overheard a woman talking to another, pointing at something behind glass and saying, “I have no idea what it is, but it’s really cute.”             I was curious about this mystery object, and when they moved away I checked it out. I likewise had no idea what it was, but I didn’t think it was cute. In all honesty, I don’t tend to like things that are cute. It’s always risky to speak for anyone other than one’s self, but I have a feeling most men don’t like c ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #38

September 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I’m sure you’re aware of the story about a young CEO who purchased a pharmaceutical company and hiked the price of a decades-old pill five thousand percent. Martin Shkreli quickly passed the likes of George Zimmerman and Kim Davis as the most hated person in America when he raised the price of Daraprim, which keeps thousands of people alive, from $13.50 per tablet to $750.00.             This tale of consummate greed sprang to mind when I pulled this illustration from my files. Created years ago for The Oregonian, Portland’s premier newspaper, it was to accompany an article on rising drug prices. My artwork had been approved by the art directo ... read more

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